A replacement for the retired Circuit Court judge T.J. Hauler was the subject of a recent meeting of Chesterfield County’s legislative delegation. Sen. Joe... Chesterfield delegation reaches consensus on new Circuit Court judge, Morrissey says

A replacement for the retired Circuit Court judge T.J. Hauler was the subject of a recent meeting of Chesterfield County’s legislative delegation.

Sen. Joe Morrissey said Saturday that three senators and four delegates agreed on the appointment of current Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Jayne Pemberton to fill the vacancy. 

Domestic Relations Court Judge Jayne Pemberton

Morrissey said the delegation included himself, fellow Sens. Amanda Chase and Ghazala Hashmi and Reps. Kirk Cox, Carrie Coyner, Lee Ware and Roxann Robinson. 

He noted that the group considered 14 applicants and settled on Pemberton. 

She will need an affirmative vote of both houses of the legislature to be appointed to an eight-year term. Morrissey said he is optimistic that both houses will support Pemberton. 

In other news, Morrissey — who represents eastern Chesterfield County — said he’s introduced or co-sponsored over 30 bills. 

Red flag?

Morrissey said he was able to get a “red flag” law — SB 240 
– modified so that a search warrant cannot be issued simultaneously with an emergency special risk order. 

This special order would prohibit a person deemed to be posing a “substantial risk” of injury to himself or others from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm. It would expire 14 days following issuance of the order and requires a hearing in a Circuit Court within 14 days to determine whether a “substantial risk” order should be issued for up to 180 days. 

Violations of the weapons stipulations would be a misdemeanor, but anyone who knows about such an order or warrant and receives a weapon from such a person would be subject to a felony charge. 

The third and final vote on the bill passed the Senate on a party-line 21-19 vote on Jan. 22. 

Morrissey said he wanted the search warrant to come later in the process. As originally written, the bill was unconstitutional, he said. 

Morrissey said two gun rights rallies held in Richmond on Jan. 13 and 20 had “a d— positive impact on all of the gun shops in the commonwealth.” He doesn’t think they will sway any legislators’ votes, however. 

“It just means people are sticking to their guns,” he said. “Virginians acquitted themselves very well,” he said of the peaceful rallies. “I was very proud of everybody on both sides.”

Right-to-work? 

Although Morrissey said the state House may pass a bill that does away with the state’s right-to-work law, he doesn’t believe such a bill would pass the Senate. 

“No way there’s 20 votes in the Senate to abolish right-to-work,” he said. “I’d be surprised if it got out of committee, and if it did, I’d be surprised if it got 15 votes.” Morrissey doesn’t support such a bill, although he does support a bill that would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. 

He noted several others whom he considers moderate Democrats and believes would likely vote against a repeal of right-to-work, including Sens. John Bell (Broadlands), Jeremy McPike (Woodbridge), Chap Peterson (Fairfax), Dick Saslaw (Springfield) and Lynwood Lewis Jr. (Accomac).  

County update

Chesterfield County’s legislative liaison, Mary Ann Curtin, gave the supervisors a legislative update during their Jan. 22 work session.

Over 3,200 bills were introduced as of that date, she said, including more than 950 budget amendments.

Del. Dolores McQuinn, D-Chesterfield/Richmond, introduced HB 1541, which would create a Central Virginia Transportation Authority, Curtin said. 

She added that Gov. Ralph Northam’s omnibus transportation bill has “about everything but the kitchen sink in there.” 

Del. Lee Ware, R-Chesterfield, introduced a bill that would have the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission study the process for funding of commonwealth’s attorneys. Although Curtin cautioned that “there are about 75 JLARC study requests ahead of him.”

Some other bills of note include one that would increase the per diem localities receive for housing jail inmates and another that would fund “no excuse” absentee voting.